Pondicherry Archdiocese

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus!

We are in the holy season of Lent. Last month I wrote to you about Lent, it’s importance and how to live it more fruitfully. I am happy to note that most of us take the fast seriously during the lent. Many people fast all the forty days and some do it very rigorously. But fail to be loving people, understanding people, forgiving people and go beyond the divisive factors of caste, creed, colour, language etc and accept every human being as images of God. That is why our fast is not acceptable to God. In the book of Isaiah, chapter 58:1-9 Prophet Isaiah gives two attributes to fast: Social Justice and Love. “To let the oppressed go free, to break every yoke, to share your bread with the hungry…”. Listen correctly to Isaiah. He does not say: give bread to the hungry but: give “your” bread. He adds: “to shelter the homeless poor, to clothe the man you see to be naked.” These attitudes demand a lot of self-denial. It is this fast that is acceptable to God because it is Social Justice and Love that is God’s will. Do this and you do not need to fast. This fast brings us closer to God and makes us to love others as God loves us. All Lenten practices, penances, prayers should help us to love. It is a session of love. We need to learn to love as Christ loved us.


Jesus has given us only one commandment. That is to love one another as he loved us. Jesus does not claim anything so much as his, as he claims this commandment of love as his. In John 15:12, Jesus says “this is My Commandment that you love one another as I have loved you”. No one on this earth has given such a commandment. Only Jesus has given this commandment. That is why he says it is my commandment. Again he says it is a new commandment. In John 13: 34, Jesus after the washing of the feet of his disciples says, “I give you a new commandment that you love one another as I have loved you”. So this commandment of love which is the commandment of Jesus is always new. It renews a person who loves and renews the family, society, the church and the world.


During this season of Lent, we are called to love the way Jesus loved. Every religion in this world teaches humankind to love but Christianity does not just teach to love. This every human being does. But Christianity teaches us to love as Jesus loved. It is a qualified love. That is why Jesus is unique and Christianity is a unique religion. Every baptized Christian is called not just to love but to love as Christ loved. It means that when we love, our love should have all the characteristics of Jesus’ love. Jesus’ love has six characteristics. Let us try to understand these six characteristics of Jesus’ love.



How did Jesus love? Look at the cross. For love of the humankind he died on the cross. It is self - giving love. In my place for my sins he died on the cross. It is totally a selfless love. In John 15:13 Jesus says, “Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends”. If my love has to be a Christian love, then when I love someone, it should be a selfless love and not with any motive of gaining something for oneself. Otherwise it will be merely a human love. As St. Theresa of Calcutta say, “Love till it hurts you: So the first characteristic of Christ’s love is when we love someone, we give ourselves totally to the person we love without expecting anything in return.



Is it possible? Even a mother who has four children, she will love one more, the other less. It is not possible humanly speaking to love everyone with the same intensity. That is why Christian love is unique. Though humanly speaking impossible still we are called by God to love every one with the same intensity. Is it possible for man to be perfect as God is? Yet in Mt 5:48 says, “Be perfect therefore as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” sometimes we may think that Jesus on this earth loved some people more than the others. For example John was considered his beloved disciple; He loved Mary Magdalene so much, He loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

That is not correct. Jesus loved everyone with the same intensity. He says in Jn15:9, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Remain in my love.” He loves everyone with an everlasting love, unconditional, merciful and tremendous love, an infinite and indivisible, total love. But the way we respond to that love we experience more. John responded more and he experienced more, Mary Magdalene responded more and she experienced more, Mary, Martha and Lazarus responded more and experienced more. But from the part of Jesus it is a love for all with the same intensity. Though it is difficult we are called to strive to love the way Jesus loved then there cannot be any division of caste, creed, colour, rich and poor distinctions. We all will be the children of the One God the Father.



Jesus could love everyone with the same intensity because he saw in every human being His Father’s image. The people brought the woman caught in adultery and placed her before Jesus. The people saw in her a bundle of adultery but Jesus saw in her God, his Father’s image. That is why he loved her and forgave her. At the sermon on the Mount when a leper made an appearance, the crowd saw in that man a bundle of leprosy and ran away from him, but Jesus saw in him His Father’s image and went towards him, held him and cured him. We will be able to love as Christ loved only when we are able to go beyond the divisive factors of caste, creed, colour and see in everyone Jesus. St. Theresa of Calcutta loved everyone because she saw in everyone Jesus. For her the Jesus whom she sees in the Blessed Sacrament, the same Jesus she could see in the person who is lying in a gutter, half dead, eaten by worms, stinking, filthy and unapproachable. She lived the first chapter of Genesis that God made man in his own image and likeness. That is the spirituality of the person. Today the world is in misery because it has forgotten who a human being is. Unless we penetrate into those external layers of a person and enter into the inner core of a person and see the reality of a person as God’s image we cannot love as Jesus loved.



We read in 1John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us”. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans 5:8 says, “But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us”. In love God takes the first step. So to love as God loves us we need to take the first step. Sometimes we think and argue in a human way that I have not committed any wrong. It is the other person who is hundred percent at fault. So let that person realize and come to me to ask pardon. This is human way of loving. But Christ’s way of loving is even if I am totally innocent; I must take the first step to reconcile because I am called to love as Christ loved. In this holy season of Lent let us take the first step to reconcile with all those who are not in good terms with us.



It is identifying oneself with the person we love. In his letter to the Philippines, St. Paul says (2:5) “Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grassed, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Christ’s way of loving is to identify oneself with the person one loves. We put ourselves in the place of the person and empathize with him, become one in him. Christ’s love makes us one.



Genuine love is sacrifice. Christ sacrificed himself for love of us. One, who loves the way Christ loves, will be ready to take up any suffering for that person.

Every baptized Christian is called to love the way Christ loves. That means as a Christian, when I love someone, in that love all these six characteristics of Jesus’ love should be reflected. Otherwise our love is a mere human love. When we begin to love the way Christ loves, there will be transformation and we will be Chaste like Christ, Poor like Christ, and Obedient like Christ. All other lentern practices, penances, prayers should help us to love as Jesus loves which is his and new commandment. This alone only can change the world into God’s Kingdom where love, joy and peace reigns.